E12: The creator economy has exploded. It's more important than ever to build an audience. I've built a simple 5 step framework to help you find, nurture, and grow your audience. By the end of this episode, you will know how to build your audience AND grow a loyal following through engaging content. I'll break down what type of content you need to post for which segment of your audience.
Find Your Voice (1:31)
Find your own unique voice. You don't wanna be just another creator in a sea of content creators. This is not how you'll be able to build an engaging audience. Why should anyone listen to you? Do you have an important message for your audience?
Identify Communities (5:47)
Go where your audience is. Communities can be found anywhere from in-person meetups to online forums to Twitter groups. Identify and go where your future audience hangs out.
Deliver Value to Communities (7:01)
Add value to each community. Establish your authority in that community. Once you've established your reputation within that niche, you can start broadening your area of expertise.
Content Structure (14:09)
Your content should have an enticing hook, which is your beginning. Next, we have the main body of your content. Don't forget to keep your content interesting by using metaphors and telling stories. Humans are wired to remember stories. Finally, we have the end. This is where you summarize the main points of your content in an easily digestible way so that your audience can quickly sum up your content in a few words. You should also have a call to action for your audience.
Content Breadth vs. Depth (16:22)
A broad type of content is something that's relatable to more people. This increases your potential reach and variety. Showcase your creativity and knowledge with content that goes deep. As part of your content strategy, you need both broad content and specific content. Broad content for relatability across a wider audience, specific content for building authority within your current audience.
Episode 1 - How to Turn Your Passion Into a Business
Episode 2 - How to Achieve Success in the Face of Adversity
World-class entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they master the art of decision-making. Influential thinkers like Charlie Munger, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk all use mental models and frameworks to simplify complex problems. Join host Yong-Soo Chung as we dive into powerful frameworks covering entrepreneurship, self-improvement, and wealth-building that will unlock hidden growth levers in your business one week at a time. Listen & follow!
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What's going on everybody? Welcome to the First Class Founders podcast. The goal of this show is to equip you with powerful concepts and frameworks to help you on your entrepreneurial journey. My name is Yong-Soo Chung and I'm the Founder of Urban EDC, an e-commerce brand selling everyday carry gear, and GrowthJet, a Climate Neutral Certified third-party logistics company. For the past 7 years, I bootstrapped an 8-figure business and now, I'm ready to pull back the curtains and take you backstage with me to discover how I operate my own business.
Today, we're talking about growing your audience. The creator economy has exploded in the last couple of years. It's more important than ever to build an audience. I've built a simple 5 step framework to help you find, nurture, and grow your audience.
By the end of this episode, you will know how to build your audience AND grow a loyal following through engaging content. I'll break down what type of content you need to post for which segment of your audience.
Let's dive in.
Okay, before you build your audience, you need to discover which topics or niches you want to provide value to.
Typically, this can be something that you're interested in, like your hobbies. Or, it can be related to your work, if that excites you.
If you're having trouble with this, check out episode 1 where we go through a few exercises to help you discover your passions.
Okay, now that you've decided on your niche, we need to hone in on your voice.
Instead of just copying others in your niche, you need to have your own unique spin on things.
Something that makes the content that you share, unique to you.
You don't want to just be another creator in a sea of content creators.
This is NOT how you'll be able to build an engaging audience.
Why should anyone listen to you?
Do you have an important message for your audience?
Establish authority within your niche by sharing valuable content in your own unique way.
And when you're building your audience, don't forget to put the audience first, ALWAYS.
This is the golden rule. If there's one thing you need to take away from all this is that your audience always comes first, before you.
You can think of your audience as customers in your business.
You should always gather feedback from your audience about your content so that you can continue to provide them with the value that they're looking for.
Okay, here are three steps to finding your own voice within your niche:
Step 1: Find a topic or news within your industry that you feel passionate about.
Step 2: Now, analyze that piece of content. What impact will that have?
Step 3: Lastly, personalize that message to your own audience. Provide an opinion and tell your audience WHY it matters to THEM.
To summarize, you don't want to make your message a commodity. You want to stand out.
And you stand out by providing an opinion on a topic and then relating that back to your audience.
Remember, put your audience first.
Let's do an example of finding your own voice within your niche.
Let's say you're a Tesla enthusiast. You can't get enough Tesla news. You're on standby for all the latest software updates.
Now, let's pretend that Tesla just announced a new model called Model Z.
Model Z has a sleek new design and everybody is buzzing about it.
Now, unless you're the FIRST person to break this news...
If you just put out content announcing the new Model Z to your audience, chances are, it's already too late and it's old news.
Your content has become commoditized.
Headlines are already everywhere, "Tesla Announces New Model Z" or...
"Elon's Next Bold Move: The Model Z".... you get the idea.
Let's move on to the next step in finding your voice.
Now, we're going to take this Model Z announcement and add some analysis to it. What does this mean for shareholders? How does this model compete with other cars in its class? What are the new specs compared to the other Tesla models?
Now, you're not just reporting the news but also adding a bit of analysis to it.
Okay, here's the final step to finding your voice. This is the most important step so listen up.
Not only are you going to report the news and provide analysis on it, you're going to take it one step further: Personalize this news and tell your audience WHY they should care.
Who should be looking to upgrade their current Tesla to this new Model Z? Is the higher price worth the upgrade? Who exactly is this Model Z for? Families? Commuters? Weekend Warriors?
This is how you can stand out from the crowd and find your own voice within your niche.
Here's a bonus tip: Once you master this skill, you can add to your voice even further by adding your personality into it. If you're witty, add some humor. If you're a big Dodgers fan, wear your Dodgers cap. Anything that makes you stand out is a good thing.
You can see this with Alex Hormozi. For those of you who don't know him, he's a huge, muscular guy who shares content on marketing and sales. If you look back at his older photos, he used to wear what everybody else wore at conferences like t-shirts and button-downs.
But recently, he started wearing sleeveless white shirts, jean shorts, and crocs exclusively. Now, when you see him walking across the hall at a conference, you can't miss him. You know that's him. That's the power of branding.
Okay, now that you've found your voice, we're going to move on to the next step in building your audience, which is finding your communities.
But before we move on to finding communities, if you're enjoying this episode so far, please help us grow this show by sharing this episode with a friend who might also be interested. Your word-of-mouth referral is the best way to grow this show. Thank you so much!
Okay, let's talk about finding communities in your niche.
If you want to build your tribe, go where your audience is.
Don't forget to niche down as much as you can.
Eventually, you want to build authority and own that niche.
Communities can be found anywhere from in-person meetups to online forums to Twitter groups.
Identify and go where your future audience hangs out.
Now, when you join a community, what you don't want to do is post about your product or service right away. It might be tempting but you'll quickly lose credibility and perhaps even get kicked out if you're being too persistent.
The admins in those groups have worked hard to provide an inviting atmosphere so don't ruin it by spamming everybody in the group.
Instead, try this.
When someone poses a question, answer it genuinely and provide value to them.
This brings us to step 3 in our framework and that's... adding value.
When you join these communities, don't jump in right away. It might be best to observe and see what kind of conversations are happening.
Then, start chiming in here and there and adding value to each conversation.
Eventually, people will start to recognize you as a trusted voice within that community and they'll start listening to you.
On LinkedIn, for example, you can follow the larger accounts that are in your area of interest. Then, when these accounts post, feel free to comment on their posts in a thoughtful manner that adds value to the original post.
Avoid adding one or two-word responses just because it's convenient. Those won't get you anywhere.
You want to establish your authority in that community.
And the way to do this is by carefully building up your reputation with thoughtful, meaningful responses.
This will take time but be patient.
Once you've established your reputation within that niche, you can start broadening your area of expertise.
For example, let's say you're a board game lover. Start with something even smaller. How about just Eurogames? You can become an authority in Eurogames and then expand to cover board games more broadly once you've become a well-established voice within the Eurogame community.
If you've got a budget and you're willing to speed up the process a bit, you can try paid media once you've identified where your potential audience hangs out.
Here is one important lesson that I learned recently.
If you're building an audience for your newsletter, sponsor other newsletters within your niche.
If you're building a podcast, appear as a guest on other podcasts or do a promo swap or feed drop.
If you're building a YouTube audience, appear on other YouTube channels.
The point is this: the medium matters more than you think.
It's hard enough trying to build an audience from scratch.
Don't add any more friction by asking your audience to jump off onto another platform.
Remember, always put your audience first. You're serving your audience.
Here's an example. I recently sponsored a decent-sized newsletter with a highly engaged audience within my target community.
My goal was to get listeners for this podcast, First Class Founders.
I didn't realize, however, that I was asking readers to jump into another platform, podcasting, and start listening, which is a totally different experience than reading.
The campaign failed miserably and I learned my lesson the hard way.
Whatever you're promoting, find your audience within that same platform.
Okay, now we're moving onto step 4 of the audience-building framework and that is building your own tribe through engaging content.
So what type of content should you post?
But before we answer that question, I want to tell you about the First Class Founders Membership.
Okay, we're back. Let's get back to building your tribe.
Right before the break, I talked about how I sponsored a newsletter to get in front of another creator's audience.
This is paid media.
In this step, we're going to leverage both earned media and owned media.
So what's the difference between the two?
Earned media is essentially any online word of mouth. So any type of mentions, shares, reposts, recommendations, or content is shown to users on a third-party platform like YouTube or TikTok through their algorithm.
Next, we have owned media, which is any online property that you control and is unique to your own brand. So any mailing lists, followers, subscribers... this is all owned media. Owned media is permissioned media. So someone else has given you explicit permission to talk to them.
We go deep into paid, earned, and owned media in the last episode, episode 11 if you want to check that out.
Okay, so how does this relate back to step 4 in our audience-building framework, which is to build your tribe?
If you're been following along, so far you've found your unique voice, found the places where your audience hangs out, and started adding value in those communities.
Now, if any member within those circles finds your information valuable, they're going to look you up and follow you because they see you as an authority figure within that niche.
Here is where you need to optimize your profile.
If you can think of your entire audience-building process as a funnel, when your potential audience looks at your bio, it needs to be enticing enough for them to hit that follow or subscribe button.
Why should they give you permission to talk to them? What's in it for them?
Optimizing bios can be its own separate episode so I won't get into it here.
But in a nutshell, you want to tell your potential followers what VALUE they'll receive consistently by following you.
Also, make sure you articulate your accomplishments in your bio to build your credibility.
Okay, now let's talk about your content.
You're engaging with your potential followers and some of them have decided to follow your journey with you.
What do you share?
Here's the general structure of your content.
You have the beginning, which is your HOOK.
Remember that your audience is probably scrolling through their feed casually. You need a really great HOOK to entice them to click into your piece of content.
For Twitter, this is your first tweet if you're writing a thread.
For TikTok, this is your first 3 seconds of your video content.
For a podcast, it's the first 90 seconds of an episode.
For your newsletter, this is your subject line.
You need to entice your audience with a great hook to grab their attention.
Next, we have the main body of your content.
This is going to be your meat & potatoes. The main entree of your content.
Don't forget to keep your content interesting by using metaphors and telling stories.
Humans are wired to remember stories. There's a reason why parables are passed down through generations around a campfire. We're engineered to relate to stories.
So during this section, make your points clear and concise using metaphors and stories.
Okay, now we move on to the ending.
This is where you summarize the main points of your content in an easily digestible way so that your audience can quickly sum up your content in a few words.
Last but not least, you should have some call to action for your audience.
This doesn't have to be a call to action for your own products and services.
This can be something as simple as asking your audience to take action on whatever topic you discussed in your content.
For example, if your content is about writing a newsletter, you can encourage your audience to send out a newsletter that week.
If you don't have a clear next action, try this:
Pose a question for your audience to think about.
You just need something for the audience to take home with them. Think of it like a mini homework assignment for your audience.
Okay, now we're going to shift gears from content structure to content type.
What is content type and why does it matter?
There are two types of content: broad and specific.
A broad type of content is something that's relatable to more people. This increases your potential reach and virality. If your niche is cooking, for example, this would be something like "How to make perfect hard-boiled eggs."
Hard-boiled eggs are delicious and nearly everybody has eaten one at some point in their lives. The content is broad enough to reach more people. If your hard-boiled egg recipe is incredibly unique and you make it in a way that stands out from the rest of the other "hard-boiled egg" content, your content could get shared driving up your earned media reach.
Remember that earned media is any piece of content that's shared, reposted, or featured on a third-party platform through their algorithm.
Broad pieces of content are necessary to increase your followers, or your tribe because it's more relatable to more people.
Now, let's talk about specific types of content.
Let's take your cooking and take it up a notch. Instead of using standard eggs from chickens, we're going to use quail eggs.
You come up with an incredible recipe using quail eggs and share it with your tribe. Now, quail eggs have a smaller market and they might not have the same reach as your standard hard-boiled egg recipe.
But for a portion of your loyal audience who've been following your work religiously, this might be exactly what they're looking for: something new and different.
This quail egg recipe showcases your creativity and your loyal audience loves it.
This is a specific type of content that goes deep, rather than wide.
You won't be able to attract as many new followers with a niche recipe like this one, but you're establishing authority within your tribe.
In other words, you're keeping your loyal followers engaged and interested.
As part of your content strategy, you need both broad content and specific content.
Broad content for relatability across a wider audience and specific content for building authority within your current audience.
Lastly, here are 3 categories of content that will help you stand out.
First, you can teach something. This is any type of content that shows your audience how to do something. For example, nearly all the content on this podcast falls under this category.
The next category of content is analytics. You can compile statistics or data and present them in a compelling infographic.
Last but not least, the third category of content is aspirational. You can share an inspiring story that motivates your audience to take action and keep going.
For example, I recently shared my own personal story on Twitter of how I quit my job in New York City during the middle of the Great Recession to move to the Bay Area eleven years ago with just one suitcase. I knew just 2 friends and had no job and no place to live. Now, I run an 8-figure business.
That tweet thread to this day has the most number of likes and retweets that I've ever had.
I had folks DM'ing me telling me how inspirational the story was and gave them hope that they too can do what I did.
By the way, if you want to hit me up on Twitter, I'd be thrilled to hear from you. You can find me @yongsoochung. I'll leave a link in the show notes.
Okay, now, with these three categories, if you can weave all three into your content, that's the best.
For example, you can gather up data on a particular topic and present it in an infographic. Then, provide an inspirational story that demonstrates why that infographic is so meaningful. Finally, you can leave the listener with a lesson that you learned personally that's related to this data.
Here, you're weaving in all three categories into your content.
One more bonus tip - don't overwhelm yourself by thinking that you need hundreds of different pieces of content on various topics to keep your tribe engaged.
You just need to say one thing in a thousand different ways.
Repurpose your content with a different spin on it each time.
All right, we're finally here. The final step to this 5-step framework to growing your audience is consistency.
When someone follows you, they have a certain level of expectation of what to expect from you.
Do you write a monthly newsletter? Then don't miss a single month.
Do you have a weekly podcast? Then never miss releasing an episode each week.
Do you tweet out insights about your industry? Then never miss a day without a tweet.
Remember that each follower has given you permission to talk to them.
And now, they have expectations from you to deliver them value, consistently.
If you stop, then you'll start losing your followers and your momentum will stop completely.
On the flip side, if your content is incredibly insightful, they might share it with their own audience.
There is no better way to grow your audience than putting out content so good that they share your content with their own audience.
This is essentially free marketing, something that is so rare in today's world.
You've outsourced your growth to your audience to spread the word on your behalf.
This is the best marketing you can have.
If you're interested in learning more about why consistency is the most important indicator of your future success, I dedicated an entire episode on it. It's episode 2 if you want to learn more.
All right, let's summarize today's lesson.
We covered the 5 steps to building your audience:
Find your voice, identify communities, deliver value to those communities, build your own tribe, and last but not least, be consistent.
You should think of your audience building as a machine.
Once you hone in on your voice, identify your discoverability platforms where your potential audience hangs out.
Deliver value to those communities and get them in as part of your tribe.
Once they're part of your tribe, engage with them with both broad and specific types of valuable content.
Then, get your tribe to share your message with their audience with incredible content. That's it.
Before we end today, I'll leave you with one more thought.
As you start building your audience, don't focus on the results.
Instead, focus on the process and keep iterating based on what's working and not working.
The only thing you can control is your process and effort.
So don't get frustrated if things aren't working at first.
Stay consistent and be patient.
Okay, that wraps up today's lesson!
On the next episode of First Class Founders, I'm going to share my personal story of how I went from no job and no apartment 11 years ago, to building my 8-figure business from scratch. This should be a good one as I dive deep into all of the ups and downs that I went through to get to where I am today. So don't miss it!
If you're a new listener and you enjoyed this episode, you can subscribe to the show by going to FirstClassFounders.com. If you're a repeat listener, I would really appreciate a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. You can head over to FirstClassFounders.com/review to leave us a 5-star review. Thank you so much!
All right, I’ll see you on the next episode of First Class Founders!